This letter was written by George Scarborough Barnsley (1837-1918) of Woodlands Plantation, Cass County, Georgia. He was the son of Godfrey Barnsley (1805-1873), a cotton exporter of Savannah and New Orleans, and Julia Scarborough (1810-1845). He was educated at Oglethorpe University at Midway, Georgia, from 1854 through 1857.
During the Civil War, George and his brother Lucien served the Confederacy as privates in Co. A (Rome Light Guard) of the 8th Georgia Regiment. In late 1862, they “appealed to their father to use his influence to get them promoted: ‘Neither fear the fighting, but dread the almost sure death from disease,’ if they returned to the ranks. George applied to be a hospital steward and decided to study medicine and chemistry, then become an assistant surgeon..” [source: A Confluence of Transatlantic Networks…. by Laura Jarnagin, page 195]
After the war, in 1866, George emigrated with Lucien to Brazil as part of a group under the leadership of Frank McMullen. Except for the period 1890-1896, when he returned to the United States, he remained in Brazil, where he practiced medicine, for the rest of his life. He married Mary Lamira Emerson in 1869.
George Barnsley had five brothers and sisters who survived infancy. Anna Goodwin Barnsley (b. 1829) married Thomas Corse Gilmour of the Isle of Man, England, in New Orleans in 1850. Gilmour died in England in 1865. The Gilmours had two children, Murray Barnsley (b. 1850) and Julia Eliza (b. 1852). Harold Barnsley (1832-1862) was an adventurer who died in Shanghai in 1862. Adelaide Barnsley (1834-1858) married John Kelso Reid of Ireland in New Orleans in 1857, and had one child, Godfrey Forrest Reid (b. 1858). Julia Bernard Barnsley (b. 1836) married James Peter Baltzell (d. 1868) in 1864. The Baltzells had one child, Adelaide (1864-1942). In 1872 Julia Barnsley married a second time, to Charles H. Von Schwartz (d. 1885). Lucien Barnsley (1840-1892) married Martha H. Grady in Brazil in 1871.
October 10th 1862
Your letter of the 5th inst. enclosing one from Julia, and three dollars on Bank of Yanceyville, N. Ca., was received this morning and I haste to reply as Lucien and I made an agreement to send all letters received from home by either party to each other as speedily as possible after the receipt.
I am truly glad to learn that Moses has been behaving better and trust that you may not have any more trouble with him.
I am also happy to hear that the tobacco is sold and at such a good price. If you think it advisable, I will be much obliged if you will invest the proceeds of the sale of the tobacco in some good interest-bearing stock, or in C. S. ____.
If I am not mistaken, Mr. Mathis can be exempted from the conscription under the head of allowing a certain number of men on plantations as overseers. I think you ought to try to keep him with you for this winter will prove a great trial to your impaired health without him.
There is nothing new. We have not yet heard who have been appointed to fill the places of the Asst. Surgeons General &c. but a few days must certainly determine and you will be advised if it affects us in any way. It certainly will in some way. Dr. Williams is now with us and we are kept quite busy. We are becoming quite settled and comfortable. There are some few cases of small pox in the hospital at this place but very strong measures have been taken to prevent its spread. I do not apprehend any trouble from it.
The weather until today has been most parching. It appears as if we were on the eve of a long rainy spell. Much uneasiness is expressed in regard to our recent repulse at Corinth. Nothing new from Gen. Lee. It will not be long, however, before we have exciting times. It is said and I presume it is true that some 6,000 Yankees are close to Culpepper Court House. We have very few men about the Rapidan. No alarm exists, I believe, from the fear that the Yankees can do much harm from Culpepper.
I wrote you a few days since quite a long letter and as I am pressed for time now, I must close. I am very much obliged for the three dollars — it was a godsend, as I was just out of money having been forced to advance heavily on mess account from the unsettled way of our present life. But now we will do much better in the way of living &c. as today we have made some new arrangements. I am not in want of money. I will draw my pay in three weeks. I hoped to lay by a few dollars for Christmas but it is impossible to do so. I meant to have spoken of the matter before this but among the whirl of other business, I forgot it. Lucien and I intend to get furloughs to pay a short visit home sometime about Xmas if we can get them — of which I have little doubt. I can only be away from my post a short time. Lucien can remain longer. I will write you again about the matter.
I am your affectionate son, — Geo. S. Barnsley
Enclosed please find letter to Julia. Would you like me to send you the Lynchburg Republican when anything interesting is in it? I get daily.
My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.